2011 schools lecture: from X-rays to Antimatter – the science of seeing inside your body

We’re almost half way through this year’s Institute of Physics Schools and Colleges Lecture Tour: How physicists build machines that do what our eyes cannot – see inside the human body. 2011 marks the centenary of Marie Curie winning her second Nobel prize for the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, as well as the centenary of Rutherford’s model of the atom.   It’s therefore fitting that the 2011 Schools and Colleges Lecture Tour covers one of the many fields in which Marie Curie’s research on radioactivity has been applied – medical physics.

Over the past hundred years physicists have developed increasingly sophisticated techniques to see inside the body, allowing doctors to better diagnose and treat illness and disease. Starting with the discovery of x-rays and including the advent of the CT (computerized tomography) scanner, the application of radioactive molecules in nuclear imaging and the use of super-strong magnetic fields in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), this year’s lecturer Dr Michael Wilson uncovers the science behind the techniques and introduce the physicists who pioneered their development.

Michael has always been fascinated by the physical world and enjoys the challenge of making scientific ideas accessible to any audience. After completing his first degree in Natural Sciences at Cambridge, he taught physics and mathematics for two years at Shrewsbury School before moving into a medical physics career.  After teaching at Birmingham University for five years, he is now a consultant clinical scientist in the Nuclear Medicine Department of the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust. He continues to teach at Birmingham University, as well as being involved in a range of other teaching roles.

The show involves  hands-on demonstrations, 3D animations, and some amazing audio-visual media. The free lecture lasts an hour and is suitable for ages 14 and over. Although the lecture is free, places must be pre-booked with the relevant venue – it’s not too late to for teachers to book onto the autumn dates!

More information and to find out about venues and bookings.